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STRASBOURG, January 25. /TASS/. Russian delegation will be compelled to suspend its membership of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe if the latter does not reaffirm the delegation’s powers at the winter session that opens on January 26, Sergei Naryshkin, the speaker of the State Duma said on Sunday after a meeting of PACE’s Presidential Committee, the highest consultative body of the assembly.
“We praise the dialogue conducted on the PACE floors and we regard the Council of Europe and PACE as important European organizations,” he said. “But if the voting on the powers of the Russian delegation upsets us, we’ll be compelled to suspend membership of the Russian delegation until the end of 2015 then.”
Naryshkin added that the responsibility for Russia’s pullout from PACE would rest with those who might decide to ostracize the Russian delegation.
He admitted, however, there was a risk that one or several national delegations could raise an issue of cancelling the powers of the Russian delegation altogether.
“This would be critical for Russia and for the assembly as such, too,” Naryshkin said.
He said along with it he hoped PACE would take a correct decision on the problem, adding: “We’re optimists and I hope PACE will take an appropriate decision as regards the Russian delegation.”
He indicated there were a variety of grounds for his optimism. “For instance, work is underway on a draft report on inadmissibility of sanctions towards MPs,” Naryshkin said.
The initiative to draft a report of this kind was put forward by Dr. Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma foreign policy committee, and its intermediary version would be published in the coming few day, Naryshkin said.
Specifically, the draft document said that some decisions taken by the Council of Europe on sanctions towards Duma deputies and senators of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russian parliament, ran counter to certain norms of the European Convention on Human Rights, and in particular the Articles 6 and 10 in it.
State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin has explained for why the decision to subject the Russian delegation to sanctions, which the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe took last April, is illegitimate.
“The Council of Europe’s statute doesn’t envision the revoking of any delegation’s right to vote,” Naryshkin said after a meeting of the Presidential Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The hierarchy of acts was such that the CoE bylaws had precedence over the PACE regimentations, which admitted of restrictions on the powers of one or another delegation, he said.
“The reference to the events in Crimea /the March 2014 regional referendum in which the vast majority of Crimeans voted in favor of divorcing Ukraine and reuniting with Russia - TASS/ that the PACE session last April made to in its resolution had no legal grounds because the reunification was effectuated on the basis of a referendum - the most democratic procedure of all - in which 97% of the regional population said ‘yes’ to the /peninsula’s / return to the Russian Federation, their homeland,” Naryshkin recalled.
If one espouses the logic of those who call equate this reunification with an ‘annexation’, then they can easily apply this term to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1989 and to claim that the latter annexed East Germany then.
“But Russia strongly objects to the logic of this kind in case of the GDR and in case of the Republic of Crimea, too,” Naryshkin said. “We always object to double standards.”
PACE stripped the Russian delegation of the powers to vote and excluded it from all of its governing bodies through to January 2015 at a session in April 2014 on the pretext of ‘annexation of Crimea’ - the way that political quarters in the West label the reunification of Crimea with Russia pending a landslide support to the move that the population of the peninsula expressed in a regional referendum in the middle of last March.
Following PACE’s punitive measures, members of the Russian delegation left the session before it was over officially and they refused to take part in the Assembly’s activities. The Russian parliamentary delegation has not visited Strasbourg since then, thus abstaining from the summer and autumn sessions in 2014.
In January 2015, PACE is to do a formal re-approval of the powers of all delegations. It is well known at the moment that some delegations, which are dominated by anti-Russian sentiments, are seeking to call the rights of Russian deputies and senators into question again.
There is a high probability that some MEPs, most of them conservatives, will speak up against the endorsement of powers of the Russian counterparts on Monday, January 26.
In this case, debates and voting on the issue will begin at PACE’s January session but the Russian delegation will not be able to vote on the problem of its own rights either on the committee or at the session as such.